If you started your sourdough starter last week, it can be used as a sourdough cracker starter. Try your hand at something with it like this sourdough cracker recipe.
This is a guest post from Sarah Wood, a KS reader. (But I use the same sourdough cracker recipe with whole wheat!)
Sourdough Cracker Starter
I am relatively new to sourdough baking. But I have learned a few things. And one of those things is that a sourdough starter needs to be fed regularly. And in order to keep it from growing obese and overtaking your whole kitchen, you’ve got to take some starter out of the “active bowl” and “discard” it.
Being a faithful kitchen steward, I would never actually discard perfectly good flour and water (and yeast)!
“Discarded starter” refers to sourdough starter that is not being fed and is therefore losing its oomph. It doesn’t have enough power to rise bread, but those yeasty beasties can still have one more chance to serve a purpose in life. (Katie’s note: a lot of sourdough instructions say to toss out starter and feed a whole cup of flour. Yikes! I just feed it a few Tbs at a time to keep the lactic acid happy. As long as you have bubbles, you’re not starving the thing.)
How It Began:
The whole reason I even got into sourdough baking is because I became acquainted with Nourishing Traditions which revolutionized my whole food paradigm. So I couldn’t be satisfied to simply “use up” my extra starter in pancakes or pizza crusts with white flour. I wanted to find recipes in which I could use whole grain flours and soak the flour.
This week I’ll share some recipes I’ve adapted that use discarded or inactive starter and allow you to properly prepare whole grain flours. Sourdough fermentation will help you make some wholesome, nutrient-dense food. (Note from Katie: fermenting sourdough is even better than regular “soaking,” and even “inactive” starter will break down a great deal of the phytates and neutralize the phytic acid. See this post on the health benefits of sourdough for more.)
How to Make Sourdough Starters into Crackers
I only maintain one starter which is fed unbleached white flour. That is what I have used in all of the recipes for this week, but I think starters fed on other sorts of flour will work just fine too. I also soaked most of these recipes up to 24 hours before I learned that seven hours is sufficient for whole wheat, so don’t worry if you leave it for longer!
Sourdough Crackers RecipePrint
Sourdough Whole Wheat Crackers
- Category: snack
- 1 c. “discarded” sourdough starter
- 1/4 c. room temperature lard from pastured pork (or coconut oil or softened butter)
- 1 c. whole wheat or spelt flour, or as much as you need to make a stiff dough
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase)
- Olive oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) for brushing
- Coarse salt (such as kosher salt) for sprinkling on top
- Large mixing bowl
- Plastic Wrap
- Baking sheet and a Silpat type non-stick baking mat OR a baking stone such as Katie used for her cracker recipe OR parchment paper
- Rolling Pin (or a glass jar, see comments for successful tip!)
- Pastry Brush (optional)
- Pizza Cutter
- In a large bowl, combine the sourdough and the lard and mix thoroughly.
- Mix the salt in with 1/4 cup flour and add to the sourdough mixture. Knead it all together in the bowl, adding as much flour as necessary to make a stiff dough.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap or put a lid on the bowl to prevent it from drying out.
- Leave the dough at room temperature for at least seven hours.
- Seven or more hours later, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit .
- Take a small portion of the dough (about 1/4 cup) and roll it out on a Silpat or other nonstick baking mat using a rolling pin, until it is very thin.
- Pour a little bit of olive oil on the rolled out dough and spread it to the edges of the dough with a pastry brush or your hand.
- Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. (I tried these with fine sea salt and it really wasn’t as good as the kosher salt!)
- Cut the dough vertically and horizontally into quadrangles with a pizza cutter.
- Transfer the Silpat onto your baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just golden brown. Repeat in batches.
- The crackers shrink a little bit in the oven, so when you pull out your baking sheet, they will already be separated and you don’t have to try and transfer the delicate dough from one surface to another.
- UPDATE: For extra crispy crackers, If you have space and baking stones to suffice, simply turn the oven off with the crackers still inside. They’ll crisp up just lovely as it cools down. NOTE: Do not use this method with an electric oven, as it will still create heat even once turned off. You’d have to let quite a bit of heat out by leaving the door open for a few minutes, then check the crackers every 10 minutes or so until they’re crispy but not burnt.
* These crackers are absolutely delightful! I suspect it is the lard that makes them so nice. Crisp yet tender.
* I must confess I haven’t tried the recipe with coconut oil or butter, but if you don’t have access to lard from pastured pork, those are good alternatives.
* This dough freezes well and you can easily defrost one or two batches at a time so that you can have fresh crackers every day! I made a double batch of dough and let it “soak.” Then I divided it into eight equal portions which I shaped into balls and then froze. It takes 1-2 hours for the dough to defrost. Then place it on your Silpat or baking stone and continue with the recipe.
* Add some fun flavors by using a Tbs. or two of tomato paste (in glass jars, no BPA!) and fresh or dried basil in the dough (the triangle shapes in the photos are a tomato-basil recipe). What other herbs would you want to try?
Katie here: I make the same crackers from Sarah’s recipe, and they are excellent! I have used both coconut oil and butter and lard and palm shortening with great success. I roll and cut the dough directly onto my baking stone and that works great. I used to think they might be too sour, but then my babysitter and her friend ate half the batch once. If they appeal to pre-teens, anyone might love them!
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80 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Sourdough Cracker Recipe”
I got brave and started growing my own starter about 3 weeks ago, and tried this recipe for the first time last week. I love it! What’s more, my roommates love it…now when they smell the crackers baking they hover around trying to get their hands on some! This would be fabulous if I could figure out a way to get some cheese into the recipe–I think it would taste just like a cheezit. I also found if I make a batch of cracker dough and keep it in a pyrex dish with a lid on, I can make one pan at a time and the dough stays good (actually improves, IMO) all week. I’ve been baking a pan of fresh crackers for work the next day every night! Thank you, Katie! I’m a sourdough believer! 🙂
After I took my first bite, the flavor was so familiar. It took me a second but just like Hannah said above, these taste just like Cheezits! Yet there is no cheese. I love them and they weren’t difficult to make, just a bit time consuming to roll out so many batches. Thanks for the great healthy recipe!
These are great! We made them with coconut oil and used our baking stone. Both times we’ve tried it, we’ve had great success. These taste just like Cheezits!! (Not sure how, since there’s no cheese, but I do wonder if Cheezits are made with sourdough.) Thanks for sharing this easy, delicious recipe. And thanks for your work with GNOWFGLINS.
This is an amazing recipe. The first time I made them, I didn’t have whole wheat flour, so I used half rye and half all-purpose. I think the rye is the best ingredient to use with these.
After I roll the dough out I sprinkle sesame seeds and then roll the seeds into the dough before cutting.
My 3 year old daughter cannot get enough of these crackers, and I can make a meal out of them.
also… heck with waste starter, this is my primary sourdough recipe now.
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These are soo Good! Thanks for posting this… I’m on my third batch tonight and I was looking at the dough and thought, why not tortillas? So, I did and they’re great as tortillas too! I’m not sure if you’ve tried this dough for tortillas yet, but I works!!
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I’m getting ready to make my first sourdough starter and would love to make crackers for my little snackers.
Something that caught my eye…cutting directly ON the Silpat is not recommended due to the fact that it contains fiberglass.
Oh, dear! Fiberglass doesn’t even sound all that safe. I guess I’ll try to stick to my baking stone as often as possible. I can just “score” the crackers on the Silpat. sigh. Thank you for the scoop! 🙂 Katie
The way I cut them, I just barely press down with a pizza cutter. I’ve never seen so much as an indentation on my Silpat.
Of course, another excellent way is to put a pizza stone in the over and preheat it as the oven preheats. Roll the crackers out on parchment and then just slide the parchment over onto the hot stone. This actually makes for a crisper cracker. I sit the parchment on the back of a jellyroll pan and use it as a peel.
Yes — I think I could make a batch every day and still run out. I made them with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar for my daughter’s preschool class yesterday and they all loved them. Super recipe!
These were amazing! I made 1/2 a batch b/c my starter is only 3 days old and I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out, but it still made 5 pans of crackers my family of 4 literally inhaled before dinner last night. My 2 and 3 year old loved them as much as my husband and me. Definitely going to be a repeat recipe around here!!! Thank you soooo much for sharing! 🙂
Great post -any ideas on how I can make this a gluten free sourdough cracker? Can you make a gluten free sourdough starter
yes! I have not done it, but I might need to someday as we explore a gluten sensitivity in my husband. GNOWFGLINS, where I guest lecture at time, including this cracker recipe, has a gluten-free track and great directions on how to create a GF sourdough starter: https://rl102.infusionsoft.com/go/srdoecourse/ks/
Hope that helps! 🙂 Katie
Hi! I just tried a gluten free version of these crackers and they were fantastic. Thank you! And YES you can make gluten free sourdough. I started mine with just rice flour and water, but as it’s been going for a while now, I’ve added countless different kinds of gluten free flours and leftover cooked grains. Thanks for this fantastic recipe!
Yeah, I think you gotta let the dough rest because that’s what also makes it ferment and gives it the sour part of sourdough. I could be wrong, but I’ve been baking and cooking for 40+ years and that’s my slant on the whole sourdough thing.
I keep my starter in the fridge for semi-long periods of time (sometimes a month or more) especially in the summer when I have too many other things going on to mess with it everyday. I’ve never had a problem, but letting it rest on the counter, uncovered for the localized yeast/bacteria to settle in and also to feed it a couple of times lets it ferment some more. That’s sorta the idea of sourdough. If your stomach is dependent on the fermented sourdough, you won’t get that, I don’t think, with something made and used the same day. This sourdoughing takes time! My tummy doesn’t like regular breads, so giving the starter time to do its thing is the most important part to me. Maybe someone else knows a different, faster way, though. I do not.
do you have to let the dough sit for this long? what would be the result of baking them almost immediately and not letting the dough rest?
The original recipe calls for only a 10 minute sit…so the crackers themselves would turn out fine. The health benefits of sourdough, as the other commenter mentioned, are that it makes whole grains more digestible. So if you bake right away, you’ve got half fermented flour (from the starter) and a cup or more of straight whole grains. Letting it sit allows those whole grains to start breaking down rather than your body doing all the work and overexerting itself. Bottom line: crackers work, just not *quite* as healthy.
Which is exactly what I said in my comment, basically. If you don’t let to dough sit and FERMENT/SOUR, it would be like using whole grain flour so you’re defeating the purpose by not letting it sit.
And 10 minutes isn’t going to do it, unless you’ve had your starter going for a while and fed it a couple of times before starting your recipe.
The fermenting process is what makes it easier to digest.
Just a note to let you know that I made these first thing this morning and I am SO very thankful I found this simple recipe for such yummy crackers. They are easy to make and very very tasty. We are mainly eating sourdough bread these days and although I have yet to perfect the loaf, these I can do!!! I also intend to blog my pictures!
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does it not defeat the soaking process to have the salt? I am confused. =P I am new to this.
It doesn’t defeat, although some say it inhibits. You can add the salt after the soak if you like, but I don’t like to mess with my pastry dough too much. I actually left the salt out intending to incorporate it after the souring period and forgot it once recently! The crackers turned out fine! 😉 Katie
I’m going to try these with homemade pate. Liver is one of those things that I know is good for me, but one of the few ways I can get it past my gullet is to put pate on a cracker.
Does anyone have a good recipe for homemade Saltines (soda crackers)? My DH likes them in his soup and it’s impossible to find soda crackers at the store that aren’t rancid when you buy them, from the atrocious hydrogenated oils they use nowadays. They stink the minute you open the box, and that just turns DH’s stomach. You know, there was a time when Saltines were only made with lard. Now, it would be unheard of — although we should be going back to those ways. Not likely, with our processed food industry looking the other way instead of back to the good and best ways of doing things — and the healthiest, too. It won’t happen, so I’m looking for a recipe I can make myself preferably with my home rendered lard. Any ideas appreciated. Thanks!
My mom made some fabulous saltines recently…I wonder if she’s subscribed to this post? 😉 I’ll ask her where the recipe is. 🙂 Katie
I found a Traditional Soda Cracker recipe at the King Arthur website. (kingarthurfour.com)
It called for all white flour and I have tried white whole wheat, but when I increased it to 1 cup (2/3 of the flour ingredient) there was a bitter taste. (I wonder if a little orange juice would take care of that?) It called for vegetable shortening, but I used refined coconut oil. I don’t have lard, but I’d even give that a try.
I like to cut the dough into 2 pieces and then roll one at a time, following directions about folding, etc. A touch-up roll is done on my baking stone and then I use sea salt. I cut and poke them before baking. Don’t let them over bake because it increases bitterness and changes the flavor. I have not tried using the melted butter after baking, nor have I tried other seasonings.
Thank you, Mary. I’ll go to the KA web site and see what I can find. I order some gadgets from them, and occasionally pick up a bag of unbleached flour or something at the grocery store (it’s often on sale) but I never thought to look there for a Saltine recipe! *seemeslapmyforehead* Der!
I’ll report back what I decide to do, k? Thanks again!
Mary, I found the recipe at KA, but I wanted one which actually called for real home-rendered lard, so I kept searching. Found this one online and it couldn’t be any easier! I made a smaller version of their recipe and they turned out great. You don’t dare leave the room for a second though, because they go from brown to burned rather quickly. They are perfect, just like the ones from the store – without all the added gunk! Also, I would never even think of using soy flour as suggested in the recipe as one of the possible flours to use. YUK! I might, however, try the whole wheat.
I just tried these with my brand new starter, and they were delicious! I did use white flour, though, because I have several failed cracker attempts under my belt and I wasn’t sure I could deal with another one. 🙂 My starter is 1/2 whole wheat, though, so they weren’t totally white! And they did taste exactly like cheez-its to both my husband and me, although there was no cheese in them! Thanks so much for the recipe 🙂
Diana – Awesome! I promise,the whole wheat version is NUMMY as well. And you can just mix in shredded cheese if you want the real thing. 🙂 Katie
I agree, Kurt. Anytime I can find new ideas concerning sourdough, I’m there. A lot of the reader comments on this subject are very helpful, too.
These crackers are amazing!!! I made my first batch a week and a half ago and a second batch this past weekend. It’s so great to know that I’ve found another great use for sourdough starter and an easy way to make a healthy and tasty snack!
I just made these up this morning and I too let them sour much longer than 7 hours. They are great! I mixed in 1 tsp garlic granules and 1 tsp mexican seasoning (from Mt. Rose Herbs) and they are so tasty! 🙂 thanks for the great post.
I often let my dough go for 24 hours with no problems. Glad you liked them! 🙂 Katie
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When I rolled out the cracker dough, it would always stick to the parchment paper, so I started brushing that with olive oil before I roll them out. Works great! And makes them even more crunchy and oily.
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I want to write a post on my (newish) blog about these crackers. They are so good and I make them all the time. How do I do that? Can I? Can I just rewrite the recipe, give a link to yours, and use my own pictures? My daughter likes them with yogurt cheese. I like them with all kinds of cheese!
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Wow I just tried these and I love them! I made some with an herbal seasoning blend I have and some with onion salt! If you don’t mind I would love to post pictures on my blog with a link to your recipe page! Thanks for sharing!
Nicole – Yum! Go for it! 🙂 Katie
Hi Katie! Thanks so much for all these sourdough ideas! Just thought I’ll let you know I tried making “shortcut” sourdough crispbreads/crackers before, and for anyone keen on a bit of last minute crackers 😉
I’ll have to try your proper recipe one day!
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My husband and I love crackers in our lunches, and I’ve tried various natural and organic varieties, but they were expensive and not as healthy as I had hoped. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I already know we’re going to love it. 🙂
Oh my word! I just have to say that God answers tiny prayers like “Oh, shoot! I don’t have parchment paper, or a rolling pin, or lard, or pastry brush, or a Silpat mat. Please Lord let these turn out okay anyway!” And they sooooo did! I even made some homemade hummus to go with them while they were baking. Holy wow! I’m doing my happy dance right now — well not RIGHT now, because I’m typing, but I was just a few seconds ago! Thank you for the step by step instructions, pictures, and following the Lord’s calling! You’re definitely a blessing to me!
Wow, I have no idea how you did crackers without a rolling pin, but I’ll do the happy dance with you that it worked out so well! You might need to video a tutorial for all of us on how to make crackers with no supplies. That’s awesome!
It was interesting that’s for sure! But even my husband liked them and THAT’S saying something! I had my three kids coming and going trying to help me. I used my hands…and a cup. I’m telling you! I’m soooo new to EVERYTHING kitchen related! I keep posting statuses on my FB and I crack everyone up that knew me a few years ago. They can’t picture me doing the things I’ve gotten myself into lately.
In place of a rolling pin, you can use almost any jar. Sometimes my homemade wheat thins have the word Kerr or Ball or Quattro Stagioni on them! My granddaughter likes to use my rolling pin to “help” me, so I end up using the jar!
Thank you so much for the cracker recipe. They are delicious. My son who loves cheez its, thinks these are the best. I no longer have to buy those horrible things on his special occasions, birthdays etc.
But mine don’t puff up like yours. They stay flat. I love the way yours puff up and bend. Is there a step I’m missing to get that.
I love these crackers! Especially dipped in roasted red pepper hummus! 🙂 I just put four balls of dough in the freezer for the rest of the month, and I’m excited to try some new flavors next time… cheesy, garlicy, herby, there are endless possibilities! 🙂 Thanks so much for this super easy recipe!
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I made these today, and they were delish! Definitely the Silpat was a huge help; I have never found anything easier to roll out! I was sure it would be harder.
For the second batch, I sprinkled adobo on them. Even yummier! I still can’t decide what to put on the last batch.
.-= Sheila´s last blog ..Herb garden =-.
Try onion herb Mrs. Dash with some rosemary. I tried it and it was delicious.
I just made some of these. I am betting based on the flavor I got that adding some cheddar to the dough would be fabulous. If I try it I’ll let you know!
.-= Kate´s last blog ..The Ultimate Diaper Bag =-.
my dough is currently sitting…can’t wait to bake these!! Oh and my starter is definitely going now, bubbles and sour smell – so I’m thrilled!
Oops – I realized I need to change my twitter name on your site! So, here’s comment #2 to switch it over . . . sorry!
PS – Sourdough rocks!
.-= Sarah´s last blog ..Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Chocolate and Almond Biscotti =-.
Thanks for including my “adapted” recipe! 🙂 And I’m so glad to hear that so many people have made and love them! We love them too . . . I’m tempted to make them again soon!
.-= Sarah´s last blog ..Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Chocolate and Almond Biscotti =-.
Can’t wait to try these!
.-= Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home´s last blog ..Beautiful Art Sculptures-Birds and More! =-.
I baked these yesterday and they are delicious! My husband gave them the thumbs up too. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us.
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I cannot tell you how long I have wanted to make my own crackers. the time is now!
just one thing, how do you know when the sourdough needs to be fed or discarded?
You feed it every day unless it’s in the fridge (then once a week). Some recipes say to “discard” half your starter every time you feed it, so that’s where this lingo comes from. I don’t. I just feed and feed and feed – so if I’m getting too close to the top of my jar, I better use some! You can just use any starter for these recipes. Once you take some out and give it a bigger feeding, it will be more ready for bread baking, in my experience.
I am SOOO glad you posted this, because I’ve often wondered just why anything needs to be discarded. What an unnecessary waste! Last time I tried sourdough-ing (a year or so ago) instead of discarding starter I just split it into two parts and fed both (in effect doubling my sourdough efforts). That’s one way to get a quick start if you want to do this in a big way. But I like the idea that I can just feed my starter less, like you do, and still get the thing going!
I have never yet discarded any starter. I always keep mine in the fridge, and I don’t routinely feed it once a week. I take it out a few hours before I want to start increasing the volume. Then I build it up to a quantity that allows me to have enough for whatever I am going to make plus 1 cup (250 ml) to go back in the fridge) at around 60 per cent hydration (about the consistency of pancake batter).
When I am making bread, I leave the mix on the counter top overnight (10-12 hours). In the morning I add flour, salt, seeds etc to make a dough. The type of flour, consistency of the dough, kneading and rising steps will then depend on the type of bread I am making.
I have never made crackers, but am looking forward to experimenting later this week, now that I have perfected a 100 per cent wholemeal and a 100 per cent semolina flour sourdough bread.
I was so excited to use my new sourdough start that I made these today. I can’t believe how incredibly easy they are! I think I have some room to improve on them (Some of my first batch reminded me of communion bread…), but I’ll definitely be making more of these! Thank you for the great recipes.
I can’t wait to make these. I can not find any soy free crackers at the store. I had to settle for a thin healthy type cookie to put my cheese on.
.-= Jennifer @ Converted Kitchen´s last blog ..H is for Homemade My Sourdough Starter =-.
I just mentioned to my husband last night that I need to start making our own crackers – I have not been happy with the store bought varieties because of the ingredients. The few whole wheat kinds aren’t that great, but THESE look fabulous!
I’m really looking forward to all the recipes this week. I plan on trying this cracker recipe tomorrow. I have made successful bread and pizza crust, so far.
.-= Pam´s last blog ..MY FIRST ATTEMPT AT SOURDOUGH BREAD =-.
Way to go, Pam!
Great ideas: on using all the sourdough starter (what’s with throwing it out?!?!?) and on making sourdough crackers.
My husband and my in-laws love their pre-dinner drinks and snacks (apéritif) and so often the snacks are some kind of weird industrial goop made into different shapes and died with different colors. (Shudder).
I love that these are natural snacks that you can freeze AND vary in your own way.
I don’t understand this business of throwing out starter either, but that’s because I keep mine in the refrigerator. When I’m going to make bread, I take out my half a cup or so of starter and feed it until I have enough to make my bread plus a half to one cup to put back in the refrigerator. Sometimes it can sit in the fridge for up to 6 weeks without attention and I have successfully frozen it for 3+ months. Of course it took several days to wake up after that, but…
My current starter is now about 6 years old, and my previous one, which was about 15 years old, only died because I forgot about it when I was moving house and found it in an advanced state of decay on the kitchen bench when I went to clean my old place after about 3 weeks.
I believe that when you keep the starter in the fridge, the cold resistant strains of yeast are the ones that survive.
Oh, I love that strategy! I haven’t made a new starter yet–keep procrastinating, thinking I’m going to end up with starter I don’t have time to use. But if I can keep it in the fridge until I know I can make something the next day…that works for me. Thanks much!
The other thing I must confess to is my completely cavalier attitude to what I put in my starter. I save the water when I cook potatoes and pasta (not rice, because I steam it); liquid from cans of pulses and corn, and the whey (if there is any) from my home made yoghurt, and use this as available. I also end up with mashed potato or oats in it, if I happen to have used those ingredients for my bread. Rolled oats in particular (soaked in boiling water make the bread really soft and moist and increase the shelf life, and mashed potato is also excellent for a soft crumb.
One thing though, it mat take a few weeks to build up the cold resistant yeast. In the mean time, you may find that your culture takes a few hours to ‘wake up’. However, if you are only refrigerating for a day, it shouldn’t pose much of a problem.
I always make bulk up the levain at night, so it gets between 10 and 12 hours to sit on the bench top before I start the breadmaking process in the morning. Two litres of starter at about 70% hydration produces 3-4 large loaves scaled at between 900g and 1.2kg depending on the type of bread, as simple white loaves have a bigger rise and oven spring than wholewheat or rye.
Sorry, a few typos in that post, as I was in a hurry and didn’t go back and check the bits I had changed. Hope it’s still comprehensible:)
Awesome advice! I always SAY you can feed your starter with any grain, but i never actually think to toss in leftover oatmeal. You’re right, though, it’s supposed to make nicer bread, so that’s good motivation to start remembering!
I topped with cinnamon and sugar and made yet another tasty treat!!